REACH Edmonton

A summer staff member for the YEGAmbassadors program says she has gained a wider understanding of complex social issues and how they affect the city’s core after working with the program for two months. 

YEGAmbassadors is a collaborative initiative that connects citizens and businesses to resources and services to encourage vibrant urban communities by working with business improvement areas. 

Jumana Alshereida, 20, was interested in the position because she had some previous experience in the area.

“I was volunteering in the McCauley area, so I’ve done things with the vulnerable populations as well as the new comers in the area,” she said. “I’m interested in things that are related to safety and making the community better. Particularly how to provide safe places for people to talk about their issues.” 

Jumana feels this is similar to what the YEGAmbassadors are often doing when conducting environmental scans. 

While talking to businesses in the area, she had both positive and negative experiences. 

Though in one instance, she was harassed by an intoxicated man for standing near a liquor store in a hijab while her co-worker spoke to the business owner, her experiences were positive overall. 

“We saw lots of people who needed help and they were all very respectful. They don’t want to say something and affect my emotions, even swearing,” she said. 

“Honestly, I was a little bit afraid of the vulnerable populations but all the intereactions we had with them were amazing. All they wanted was help, resources and connections.”

As she was preparing to go to medical school in Dubai at the beginning of September, she felt the experience she had with the YEGAmbassadors will improve her ability to provide equitable care to her patients later in her career. 

“I feel like I’m going to be way more open talking to people who are in need and not judge somebody right away,” she said. “These same people we judge might be the nicest people.

That’s something I think I really gained from this job: it changed my views completely.”

“Also, I learned about all the resources,” she said. “And when I see someone in need, now I know what to connect with. I’m going to know who to call. That’s something that will go with me.”

Jumana was happy to be supporting work that focuses on the root causes of complex social issues.

“I feel like Edmonton is going to be so much better in a few years if this keeps going,” she said.

“I would love to work here, it’s a nice city it’s developing nice. I’m looking forward to expansion give people so many opportunities.”